Ed Hawkins wonders whether conditions could assist the hosts in Pallekelle on Wednesday against a strong England unit...
"If Sri Lanka can field first, try to keep England in check and then go after a reduced target then they could be in business"
Sri Lanka v England
Wednesday 17 October 10:00
Live on Sky Sports
Sri Lanka need help
Sri Lanka have every right to feel a little aggrieved. Up against it versus the No 1 side in the world, the least they would expect is to be able to play them in home conditions. Yet game two - after the first washout in Dambulla - was more akin to spring opener in England.
England's pacers felt right at home. And that nipped in the bud Sri Lanka's reduced chase. They required 172 off 29 overs and the game was as good as up when they were reduced to 31 for four. Thisara Perera and Dhananjaya de Silva gave the scorecard some respectability as they went down by 32 runs.
There was decent news on the bowling front. Lasith Malinga roared back into the spotlight with a five-for and the sort of death-yorker masterclass which England should take note. De Silva was also economical with the ball.
Denly in for Dawson
England have lost Liam Dawson for the series because of a side injury. It is a blow for the Hampshire man because he bowled with excellent control in game two and was a threat. His place has gone to Joe Denly.
Whether Denly arrives in time to be involved in this one remains to be seen. Denly's spin for Kent in recent years has been a key part of their on-field armoury in one-day matches. He last played an ODI in 2009, purely as a batsman. It is a sound pick.
Otherwise England are in good shape. They will be delighted that Sri Lanka's spinner didn't tie them down - although the wicket was hardly conducive - and the performance of Ollie Stone on debut was encouraging. As expected Joe Root and Eoin Morgan proved they are best suited for runs in the conditions.
Pallekelle is a chaser's ground with 13 of the 20 day-night matches won by the side batting second. It's a heavier bias when you filter results to the last five years only with six from eight when by the team that fields first. The first-innings scores in that sequence read: 306-217-236-195-206-287-239-267. The 306 was by Sri Lanka against South Africa last year. They won - but only just. The margin was by three runs following a rain-reduced target.
Weather could reduce overs - and gulf
With the weather important so far the first port of call before perusing the match odds is the forecast. It's not great news. Thundery showers are expected all day before clearing at around 17:30. Overs could be reduced then.
That probably helps Sri Lanka. They need as many 'outside' factors as possible to overcome the talent gap here. The most important, naturally, is the toss. If they can field first, try to keep England in check and then go after a reduced target then they could be in business.
It has to be said with so many factors at play, England don't look any fun whatsoever at [1.39]. Sri Lanka are [3.5]. You should still get [3.0] if they field first. There are worse bets.
In perhaps the best example of the pitch being a great leveller, England won there in 2014 when they were a truly average ODI team. They batted second, too.
De SIlva and Perera big prices
De Silva and Perera have decent records at Pallekelle in the last five years. They average 42 and 31 respectively. Expecting them to go well again is far from woolly thinking. Particularly with the odds on either top scoring favourable. De Silva is 11/2 for a repeat and Perera is 10s with Betfair Sportsbook. Dinesh Chandimal, the jolly at 7/2, has a mark of 35.
Root's the man to beat
In that 2014 match Root made an unbeaten century. Given that he has already notched a half-century - and was looking solid before the rain in the first match - there will be plenty of takers of the 3/1 that he top scores. Don't forget Morgan, though, at 9/2.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l
Back Sri Lanka if they bat second at [3.0] or better (0.5pts)